Occasionally, when I tell someone that I am a professional hypnotist, their response will be, "That stuff may be real, but I know it won't work on me because my mind is too strong."
When I hear this kind of thing, I have to resist the urge to laugh. Not because I think the person saying it is stupid or ignorant; the image of hypnosis as 'mind control' is something which is widely promoted in our culture, so one can hardly blame the average person for believing it. Still, the reason I find the, 'my mind is too strong' attitude to be so funny is because it captures, with perfect irony, the very reverse of what hypnosis actually is and what it can do for the person who understands how to properly use it.
The truth is, hypnosis is the most essential learning state, and it is one that belongs to all of us--both the 'weak' and 'strong' minded. For we are all being hypnotized all the time. When we watch a 'mesmerizing' TV show or movie, when we have a great conversation with a 'charming' friend, when we 'zone out' while listening to our favorite song, when we are 'enthralled' by an 'engrossing' talk--all of these are just a few examples of what the famous hypnotherapist, Milton Erickson, called, 'everyday hypnosis'. For what hypnosis really is is a fixation of attention accompanied by a simultaneous lowering of the barrier between the conscious and unconscious mind. In a very real sense, it is the natural ability humans have to re-program the internal computer of their nervous system with new and improved instructions. Without hypnosis, in its many and varied forms, human beings would be totally dysfunctional and poorly adapted to a changing world.
Put another way, if your mind is truly strong, it is because of hypnosis (i.e., profound, adaptive learning).
The primary differences between the common hypnotic experiences we have and those we might have on stage or in a professional hypnotherapist's office are really a matter of depth and intent. For example, we might 'lose track of time' while we 'get into' our favorite song, but we are generally doing it solely for entertainment and are not really at a level of trance suitable for the deep hypnotic work necessary for personal transformation. (Hypnotists call this a 'hypnoidal' or 'light trance' state.) But in a good hypnotherapist's office, we may be hypnotized to a profound level in order to specificallyreprogram our mind and nervous system to serve us in better ways.
So, to answer the question posed by the title of this article, no, hypnosis is NOT for the weak-minded. Rather, it is for those who recognize that their mind functions rather like a computer and that sometimes even the best computers require an update. It is for those who want to take conscious control over how their mind is being programmed, rather than allow it to be programmed through nothing but the input of media and random conversations.
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